The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reported today the first measles case of this year in a visiting student from Western Europe. The state reported eight total measles cases in 2014. Because this case is imported, it is not counted as a confirmed case in the Commonwealth.
State officials highlighted the state’s high immunization rate against measles as a key safeguard.
“Over 95% of students in Massachusetts have already been vaccinated against measles, making a widespread outbreak unlikely,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of Public Health. “Fortunately, the measles vaccine (called MMR) is safe and highly effective. As most measles cases in the U.S. have been among unvaccinated people and people who don’t know their vaccination status, this provides an opportunity to remind people to confirm their immunization status with their healthcare provider, and for parents to have their children vaccinated.”
Measles is very contagious. People who believe they have been exposed are recommended to check their immunization status and to become aware of measles symptoms. People who are showing symptoms of measles are advised to telephone their healthcare providers before going directly to a healthcare facility. Please see the list of possible measles exposure sites for this case below.
Although this case was imported from abroad, DPH has been in consistent communication with clinicians and health care facilities over the past several months to be vigilant for possible measles cases, a need highlighted since the beginning of the US measles outbreak associated with a theme park in California.
Early symptoms of measles occur 10 days to two weeks after exposure and may resemble a cold or flu (with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes), but a rash occurs on the skin two to four days after the initial symptoms develop. The rash usually appears first on the head and moves downward. The rash typically lasts a few days and then disappears in the same order it appeared.
People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the day the rash appears.
People who have had measles in the past or who have been vaccinated against measles per CDC recommendations are considered immune.
Health officials reports the following places and days/times as possible measles exposure sites:
- 9:30 – 1:30 AM*: JFK Library in South Boston, Mass.
Boston Public Health Commission: 617-534-5611
- 2:00 – 5:00* PM: Subway Restaurant & The Garage shopping center in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.
Cambridge Public Health Department: 617-665-3800
- 2:30 – 6:00* PM: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
Gloucester Health Department: 978-281-9771
- 8:14 AM: MBTA Commuter Rail: Inbound from Hamilton Station to Boston (North Station)
- 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM*
Visits to Footlocker and Abercrombie in the Faneuil Hall area.
- 3:20 PM: MBTA Commuter Rail: Outbound from North Station to Hamilton Station.
To date in the US, 166 people from 19 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles [AZ (7), CA (103), CO (1), DC (2), DE (1), FL (5), GA (1), IL (15), MI (1), MN (1), NE (2), NJ (1), NY (3), NV (9), OK (1), PA (1), SD (2) TX (1), UT (2), WA (7)].